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Gov. Walz Signs Elder Abuse Legislation

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed historic elder abuse legislation Wednesday that will license assisted-living centers for the first time.

Minnesota had been the only state in the nation that did not regulate the centers that more than 55,000 seniors call home. This bill changes that.

Walz signed the bill at a Brooklyn Center conference aimed at preventing elder abuse.

"It is not only going to improve the lives of our parents our seniors, it's also going to be an acclamation that our democracy can still work," Walz said.

It was a bipartisan effort.

Related: Vulnerable adult protection and elder abuse

"Taking care of our seniors has no party behind it. There is no Democrat, no Republican. It's the right thing to do," Sen. Karin Housley said.

Minnesota's nursing homes have been regulated for years, while the state's 1,200 assisted living facilities are not. This at a time when the nursing home population has dropped to under 30,000 and the number of Minnesotans living in assisted living facilities has grown to more than 55,000.

The bill requires all assisted living facilities to be licensed and creates a resident's bill of rights.

The bill also has a provision that will allow people to put a hidden camera in their loved ones room if they suspect abuse.

The hidden camera provision becomes law in January of 2020 and the overall bill in August 2021. Until then, state officials will use the $30 million the legislature allocated to help set up the infrastructure for enforcement of the bill.

For those at the Elder Abuse Conference, this legislation has been a long time coming.

"I think this will make a tremendous difference in Minnesota to older adults, allows for greater protections, consumer protections, older adults who are living in licensed care facilities. It's momentous," said Amanda Vickstrom, executive director of the Elder Justice Center.

If you have concerns before the new law goes into effect, you can call the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center. The toll-free number is 1-844-880-1574.

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